LOCKPORT – There were plenty of suggestions but no decisions this week, as the Common Council met with a former high school classmate of Buffalo Police Officer Patricia Parete to discuss his suggestion that a park in the city be named after her.
“We have a lot of opinions, and we need to come together to come up with a unified answer,” Council President Anne E. McCaffrey said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Parete, a Lockport native and a 1983 Lockport High School graduate, died Feb. 2 at age 48, more than six years after she was shot while investigating a fight at a Buffalo convenience store. The bullet left her a quadriplegic.
Joseph DiPasquale, who was president of Parete’s graduating class, suggested naming Rogers Avenue Park after her.
DiPasquale said he went through a list of Lockport parks and found few not already named after someone.
“There’s no Rogers, and I said, what a nice little park for Patty,” said DiPasquale, who now lives in Buffalo. “I drove by. There were kids playing, and I said, ‘My God, this screams Patty.’”
But Mayor Michael W. Tucker and the aldermen are concerned because they passed up chances to name things after other people who recently gave their lives on duty.
Two years ago, the Council declined a request from the family of Spc. Albert R. Jex, a Lockport native who was killed in action in Iraq, to name a bridge over the Erie Canal after him. And the Council never received a request from the family of Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Incardona, who died in a 1993 car crash while he was rushing to aid a Lockport policeman who had been shot.
“There’s probably 100 people who should be honored, and probably 100 more down the road,” Tucker said. “Our challenge is, how to honor them fairly equally.”
DiPasquale said the Council should revisit the questions of honoring Jex and Incardona. “That bridge should be named after that kid,” he said of Jex and the request made for the Stevens Street Bridge in 2011.
Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward, opposed that idea. “It shouldn’t be named after one person,” he said.
Alderwoman Kathryn J. “Kitty” Fogle, R-3rd Ward, last week suggested naming a park “Fallen Heroes Park,” but DiPaasquale said he doesn’t favor that for now.
“It will get to a point where there’s nothing left. Then a catch-all might make sense,” he said.
Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward, said his constituents around Rogers Avenue oppose a name change. “I’ve heard from them. They don’t want Parete Park,” he said.
Fogle said Rogers Avenue is in the wrong part of town, since it’s in eastern Lockport and Parete grew up in the city’s west end.
“How about Parete Field in Grossi Park?” she suggested, referring to a small west end park. “There’s nothing there but a basketball court and a big rock.”
Alderman Joseph C. Kibler, R-at large, warned against tampering with Grossi Park, of which neighborhood residents are highly protective.
After DiPasquale left, Lombardi had a suggestion for the Class of ’83: “Why don’t you guys raise some money for a gazebo, and we’ll put it in a park?”
Tucker and McCaffrey said a Council committee probably will be chosen to grapple with the naming issue.